Longtime New York career coach Ellis Chase’s client had just gotten an offer for a great job as an analyst at a hedge fund, and she’d been successful in staving off any discussion of base salary or bonus up to that point. Chase had coached her in this tactic. You want the employer to fall in love with you before you start talking numbers, he says. That way you’re in a much better negotiating position.
But the next step Chase says you should take in the process is counter-intuitive: don’t talk salary yet. “When you get the actual offer, you’re in no emotional shape to negotiate,” he says. “All you’re thinking about is that you got the offer and you just want to lock it up.” A lot of people are afraid that if they ask for more time, the hiring manager will rescind the opportunity. But that doesn’t happen 99% of the time, he says. What you should say: “I’m thrilled you want to hire me. Could you just give me a couple of days to think about it?”
Then, Chase says, it’s time to do as much research as possible on how much the company pays for that position and to draw up a list of things that matter to you, including your scope of responsibilities, base salary, bonus, frequency of reviews, 401(k) match, vacation time, technology you’ll be using, even where you’ll sit. Go into the next meeting with a pad and pen and say, I hope you don’t mind if I take notes. That will signify how serious you are and ensure that you have a record of what you agree upon.
Though she was very reluctant to take Chase’s advice, his hedge fund client asked for more time and got it. Still, she was terribly nervous that the employer would take back the offer. “She was a mess,” says Chase, who wrote a book called In Search of the Fun-Forever Job: Career Strategies That Work, that includes a chapter on negotiating salary.
Then he helped her draw up a list of priorities. His advice: Make the first question an easy one, like, when can I get into the 401(k) match. The answer will always be six months, he says, but that softball question will put the hiring manager at ease. Next ask another easy question. The client chose to ask about her reporting relationships.
Then the third question should be about your top priority. This client cared most about her bonus. The offer had been presented as though the bonus was entirely discretionary and she wanted something more concrete: Did it depend on how her group performed, on her individual achievements, whether she hit certain benchmarks? To her delight, the hiring manager said, “I’m glad you asked that,” and gave her specifics.
Then for the fourth question, Chase coached her to ask another easy one. She asked whether she could use a Macintosh rather than a PC.
The fifth question, Chase says, should be another tough one. For the client, it was base salary. Chase says that at hedge funds, the base is rarely negotiated because the bonus is what’s important, but he coached her to try to get the employer to go higher than his initial offer. The employer said $150,000 and she asked, could we do any better than that. He said he could make it $155,000. She was thrilled.
Throughout the salary negotiation, Chase advises clients to imagine that they are still in a job interview. “When you’re trying to get the base salary up, resell yourself,” he advises. Remind the employer that you have eight years of experience plus a master’s degree and why you are worth more in the market. All hiring managers expect candidates to try to get more money, he says, and they are almost always prepared to go higher than the initial offer. You just have to ask.
Read the article on Forbes.com